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Vicki Washuk World War ll Blitz  Buy On Smashwords    Also   Buy Diary's Here:
I am the great-granddaughter of Ruby Side Thompson. 
Recently I started re-reading the World War ll journals and felt that they were such an important part of a history that will soon be forgotten if not published and shared with the world. These diary excerpts are not the entirety of what is published in print and kindle.
Ruby grew up during a time when education was just beginning to be encouraged for both upper and middle class women. During the late 1890's Ruby explored many radical political ideas of London, England. She met many famous people including the writers George Bernard Shaw and William Butler Yeats. 
5.0 out of 5 stars A choice pick, not to be overlooked, November 6, 2011 By Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA)

World War ll London Blitz Diary: 10-5-41 This present war isn’t a world war; it is only a European war. The ideal life, which we promise to establish in the world, after victory, what of that? An ideal life for whom? For us, only us, the English, the Americans, and perhaps the French, and a few other educated Europeans.

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October 5, 1941
This morning I actually feel peaceful. I think my mind’s load of worry about Artie has finally lifted, so that it’s rested and at ease again. What a to-do that Edna episode has been! What I hope now is that Artie will be so interested and contented up in his O.C.T.U. that Edna will quickly fade from his mind. I’m sure his correspondence with her developed so factually simply because he was so utterly bored at New Romney. At last he has got away from there; and I most concentrated hope that he has got away from her also.
Yesterday I began to read Sarah Gertrude Millin’s book, The South Africans. I am interested in all of this woman’s work, and, because of Olive Schreiner, I am always interested in South Africa. This book interests me deeply and has given me two jolts; the first is a minor jolt, and concerns my own affairs; the second is major, and concerns world affairs.
To take the minor jolt first. It concerns religion. Mrs. Millin is a Jewess herself, so she never has an inside understanding of Christianity or Christians. Not that she is anti-Christian, but she just can’t know the indelible Christian background of any Gentile life, no matter how un-believing. She observes the Christians, and, I presume, in her own beliefs, or non-beliefs, can be classed with our educated agnostics. However, writing of the South African colored people, she has made two statements, which sort of snagged me. She writes:
“The natives are increasing because they no longer kill one another…even if they only kill an enemy whom the witch-doctor has smelted out. The white people came along and make a fuss; and quite often a perfectly well-meaning person, highly respected and with occult power, is hung. So if one can’t drink, or fight, or occupy oneself with religion, what is there in life to do but propagate sons to plough the lands, and daughters to fill the Kraals?”
And again: “Most of the Bloemfontein natives are Basutos, and therefore rather more civilized than the warrior-bred native. They have their social sets, social standards. They live in brick houses with streets at their doors. They save from wages that are lower than anywhere else in the Union. They are devout churchgoers. They fervently respect their black ministers and teachers. They marry as Christians, and not necessarily with lobola (money paid to a father to buy his daughter for a wife). They have English or Dutch Christian names, and call one another Mr. or Mrs. They go, with avidity, from youth, through maturity and into senility, to Sunday school. It is their club, anything connected with the church. They sing hymns, giving them an odd Kaffir quality in the singing—wildness penetrates the meek notes of the music. They go to school. They learn the piano. They play tennis. They love letter writing.”
These statements came to me like a slap in the face. Ted! I thought Ted! I remembered the two old Negresses in our Tenafly cottage, particularly Miss Nelson. I thought of the weekly pictures in our English Catholic papers of native priests. This week’s Herald carries a picture of a black bishop! These things make me sick. Again I flinch away from Ted’s dreadful religiousness, a religiousness that seems to me so puerile, so childish, and so unbearable. The hatred that is always in me for Ted’s evangelicalism, his religion, which I despise, flares up again, and scorches me. Yes, I think, he is just on par with Maria and Miss Nelson.  He’s crazy! I can’t bear it.
The major jolt I receive from this book is a sort of dismay. This book was written and published in 1926, long before our present European conflict began to stir. It is dominantly concerned with the colored peoples of South Africa, with the color question. As one reads it today and asks oneself: But what of democracy? Of Liberty? Of Equality? Of Justice? What are we fighting for? A new order? What new order? Just as I saw the illusion of personal importance, riding down to Artie’s camp, in a similar way this book shows me the great illusion of the white man.
This present war isn’t a world war; it is only a European war. The ideal life, which we promise to establish in the world, after victory, what of that? An ideal life for whom? For us, only us, the English, the Americans, and perhaps the French, and a few other educated Europeans. What do we mean by education? Only what is taught in our schools, that’s all. All the time there are and there will remain, all the other millions of people on the globe, who are not as us, and who, even if they can take a veneer of our education, will never be as us, never become one with us. What is our law and custom to the colored man! Nothing. Democracy. freedom, equality, brotherhood, justice, culture. These are meaningless to millions and millions. So what are we fighting for? For ourselves. I think of the blah blah, which rolls out of the radio, political, religious, and patriotic. It’s all of it dope. It is the conceit of Europeans, the conceit of the white man.
I ask myself: what about all the people of South America? They are not white people either. Are we going to share the world with them after the war? Of course not, no more than we share it now. What will victory do for the South African? Nothing.
Just as each one to ourselves quite unconsciously, but nevertheless actually, considers oneself the center of the universe, so do we collectively consider ourselves radically, and our particular race to be the dominant race.
“I am an Englishman.”
“I am American.”
“I am a Frenchman.”
“I am a German,” and enough said.
How stupid! Meanwhile the politicians bring a war to pass, and the few make money from it whilst the multitude perish, and who cares? All the time the talkers talk. The pious pray. Men beget, and women labor. Oh God! It makes me sick!
It toughens my resolve to protect myself. A new world order? It is to laugh. A universal religion? It is to laugh even louder. There is no brotherhood of man. Black and white, rich and poor, the haves and have-nots, the drivers and the driven; ad- nausea. That’s all.
Ted has gone out to a Knight’s Meeting. I smile. Over lunch he told me he was going, and after lunch he went up to take a bath! Then he called me to find him his clean underwear. He was very fussy. Why? It strikes me there is an “initiation” at the Knights this afternoon, with nudity, and all that sort of symbolism stuff. Men playing. Damn fool men.
I have finished, The South African. The book winds up on the insoluble question of what to do with the native.
She writes: “The educated Kaffir trembles at the thought of a country of his own, separation of black from white, segregation. A native educated is a native spoilt. What is his maturity to him then but a tragedy; a ripeness unused, souring, fermenting? What can he do with his training and his education? He can teach other natives to become the superfluity he has himself become. That is all. He may not try to rise. He may not, even if his intelligence and capacity are of the highest, aspire to mount beside a European whose intelligence and capacity are of the lowest. All the laws of nature would seem to stop and planets would crash wildly into one another and the universe would come to an end if ever a black man were lifted to a position of command over a white man.
“That is the feeling in South Africa. It slumbers even in the hearts of the otherwise just and temperate men. However they may wish the happiness of the native, and demand rights for him, there is something which prevents men from making an equal of him, except spiritually, except theoretically, and still less a superior. Nor can they easily, here and now, bring themselves to touch his skin.”
Exactly.
What about our American Declaration of Rights? All men are born free and equal? Well, white men for white men wrote that. Are Negroes people? And don’t I come right up slam against this feeling in myself? Haven’t I always said, “Niggers haven’t souls?” Don’t I suspect in Edna Renacre a touch of the tar-brush? And that is the reason why I never will accept that girl as one of the family? Her looks are to me anathema.
Mrs. Millin writes, “All around the black man there are new, strange, terrible forces. To these he submits himself because they are the forces of the white man, his master, teacher, and conqueror. He believes in the white man’s God. He does the white man’s work. He wears the white man’s clothes. He learns the white man’s language, his skills and his wisdom. Well, where is he? At Bulehoek he relies on this God, and he is slaughtered. To the mines he is lured to this work, and the white miners ride the bitterness against him. He attends mission and government schools, and thinks, like a child, how he will please by his decency, his industry, and his progress, and hostile tongues declaim: ‘A native educated is a native spoilt.’ There is an arresting term: ‘the white man’s God.’ A white God of course. Who said: God is made in the image of man? And what about Jesus: Who in Christendom ever thinks of Jesus as a Jew? As he was. How we dislike the Jews!”
October 7, 1941
Now I have been reading a book, which has disturbed me emotionally. It is only a simple novel, entitled, Nor Perfumes Nor Wine, but it has brought to the front of my mind those memories I prefer to keep behind. It is an American story. It opens in 1907. It is the story of the bringing up of five sons, first on a place seventeen minutes from New York City, then in Brooklyn, then in Connecticut. The Bronxville place is very remindful of our Tenafly home; even the family cow is named Daisy! The book even speaks of Bayonne, New Jersey!
The book itself is inconsequent, but the memories it evokes are devastating. I find myself weeping for my sons, and I can’t bear it.
Now this afternoon I have received a copy of Mary Colum’s book, From These Roots. It is a second hand from Boots. I asked for it when I first read the book, back in 1938. I had given up hope of ever seeing it again, but here it is. I am so glad to have it. I think it a very important book, one I should possess. In a way this particular book coming to me now is queerly coincidental, for I am stirring again. I mean that secret self that wants to write books. I have been at a full stop all summer, but now ideas are flowing again, and I want to write. I’m broody. I want time, and no disturbances. Now that Artie’s affairs have cleared out of the way, my mind is set free for my own affairs. If I can only stave off the neighbors and the callers.

October 8, 1941
Commenced to read Havelock Ellis’s autobiography, My Life. It was published last year, but has only just come in to me. Queer, isn’t it? That this book should come to me in my present mood. Ever since my journey to New Romney I have been dwelling again on my project of writing the story of my life. Though I was excoriated then with the flash of the insight of the total unimportance of the individual, and of the human race en masse; nevertheless, paradoxically, I was impressed with the indelibility of myself. Myself. No matter how trivial, how trashy, how incomplete and frustrated, nevertheless, it is only to myself and through myself that there is any meaning in the universe, or, indeed in any universe at all. When I am not, nothing will be. So I want to express myself, whilst I can; to leave something tangible of myself for my tangible descendants, those bits of me which may continue to persist when I am only dust. So I want to state myself; not the self I appear, or the self I think I am; but what I am: myself.
Seven fifteen p.m. I went done to the Floral Hall this afternoon, to have a shampoo and set. I had forgotten it was market day, so I ran into the shopping crowd. It appalled me. Such ugly people, such drab people; I did not see one good face. Had I been in an American city I would have discovered myself to be in the “foreign” part, and I shouldn’t have worried. These were English people!
Tonight I am too tired to do anything, even too tired to read. Luckily there is a good B.B.C. Symphony concert at eight o’clock, Handel’s “Water Music,” some Berlioz, and Eva Turner singing “Softly Sighs” from Der Frerscluntz, and “One Fine Day” from Madame Butterfly. So I shall make myself happy with that. Unless Ted comes in early of course! Last night I wanted to listen to some quiet bedtime music, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Chopin, and he would talk. He sucked his pipe all the time, and spoke in his monotone between nearly shut teeth. He discoursed on art, and got around to the statue of the Sacred Heart in the British Church. He went on and on, talking against the music. It was completely maddening. I suppose he thought he was being amiable. Anyhow, I’ll hope for good listening tonight.
October 9, 1941
The war news from Russia grows worse and worse. The Germans are still pressing in and a more violent battle than ever is now in progress, in the central sector, that is the Moscow section. The figures given out are so colossal they are almost beyond comprehension. Each side claims to have annihilated the enemy by millions. What folly! Oh God, what folly!
I have been house cleaning again today. Mrs. Prior has written that she is suffering with rheumatism and that she is under the doctor, but she hopes to come to work next week. Well I hope so. Housework bores me. Anyhow, I am sick of housekeeping. Ever since that trip to Romney I have wanted to be on the go. Maybe it’s the Jew in me, the wandering Jew. I like to travel, to keep on going places, on and on. I am tired of sitting in a house; looking after a house wearies me. Let somebody else do it, that’s what I think and feel. Being house-proud is certainly not one of my vices. Of course I might have been, had I ever had the sort of house I liked. I have never had anything to say about the kind of a home I must live in; I have had to make do with someone else’s choices. Now I don’t even want my own choice. I only want to be free of a house, and the everlasting job of housekeeping. For more than thirty-six years I have been a housekeeper; that’s too long, a damned sight too long. Let me be free for a while! That’s my prayer to destiny: free of everything and everybody.

October 10, 1941
I am in an awful mood of misery, on the verge of tears. Physically affected too with a lump in my breast, a twist in my bowels. Due to Ted of course! Because of myself, the fool creature that I am who cannot adapt to the peculiarities of this man. The weather, too, is against me. Rain, dullness, stickiness, the whole atmosphere is depressing.
There is an advertisement in The Times this morning, put in by the Rationalist Press Association, which is a protest against the proposals for intensified religious education in schools. Very foolishly I commented on it. That set Ted off. Without looking at it even, he was away on a long harangue about Protestants and the errors of Protestantism; and as the minor subject was education, of course he had to drag in Gladys and give her a few slams. This bigotry overwhelms me. I never get used to it. Nor can I answer it. Indeed, I don’t try to. It would be to argue with a mad man.
Anyway I am in a bad way, suffering with suppressed passion. All last evening I read the Havelock Ellis book. It does interest me, though I do think Ellis was a bit potty. After I went to bed, I lay awake a long while, thinking about him and Olive Schreiner, and their odd love affair. Olive Schreiner has interested me ever since I was a young girl. I always read anything whatever I can find about her. Well, then I was dreaming of “love” and woke early long before the alarm went off, full of desire. With me that is the natural time for desire, at the end of the night. But of course I made no sign. You would have thought the man beside me would have sensed my passion. But no, he was completely obtuse.
The alarm sounded and he got up. When he returned from the bathroom he did a series of exercises. I could see all this in the mirror. He didn’t even know I was awake. Then off he went, and out to church. To church, to his absurd religion, to communion with a wafer, to his dream, to a fantasy. I thought, as I have thought a thousand times, oh, for a man, a real man! I longed for a real life. I longed for flesh and blood, my children, and their children, a mate, a real mate. Not this dreamer; not this damned fool dreamer who runs away from all the facts. I was in mental and physical agony.
Well, I got up, and prepared breakfast in the usual way. I should have beaten down my misery as the morning went on. I had to listen to his tirade against the Protestants. This floors me. It makes me feel ill. I feel I am up against a lunatic, and there is nothing I can do about it. Endure? I have endured for thirty years or more and the enduring destroys me. I want to escape, that’s what I want. I want to live my own life, while I have a life to spend. I want America; I want my children, a lover, a friend, health, freedom, and happiness. Well, I can bear solitariness. Anyhow I am a natural solitary I think. What I want is happy solitariness: to be free.
That day I went to see Artie, yes, I was happy traveling alone. I want to wander, to get away from the shackles of marriage. I want to be free. Oh, God, to be free! Ted is free. More than anybody I know he does exactly as he likes. He has arranged his life to suit himself, entirely. What a life! An escapist life. He should have been a priest, not a husband.
Twice this week I have met Father Bishop on the street and each time with a sense of shock. He looks such an oddity. He doesn’t look like a man. He looks like a neuter, not a man. Each time I have been offended by his lack of manners. He doesn’t raise his hat. Is it against code for a priest to raise his hat to a lady? Maybe. I don’t know. Anyhow, such a discourtesy stamps him as no gentleman.
Well, I must go and dress, and go out and buy some fish for lunch. Christians eat fish on Fridays because, being bloodless, fish don’t copulate! Oh, I don’t know whether I am laughing or crying. If only the sun would shine I should feel better. What a climate!

World War ll London Blitz Diary: 8-13-41 Last night I had to get up, about one a.m.—guns. I came downstairs, and heard a big bomb fall somewhere. About four a.m. everything was quiet, so I went back upstairs to bed. Ted said he heard alerts every night whilst he was away.

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August 13, 1941
My guess about Ted going to Walsingham has turned out wrong. He arrived home at one o’clock today. The weather has been too showery for pleasant hiking, so here he is, home again. A good homecoming, I think. I think we were both pleased to see each other again. Anyhow, for both of us, our nerves have been rested.
Last night I had to get up, about one a.m.—guns. I came downstairs, and heard a big bomb fall somewhere. About four a.m. everything was quiet, so I went back upstairs to bed. Ted said he heard alerts every night whilst he was away. His early return put a further crimp into my sewing. Weather has turned definitely stormy.
August 14, 1941
At the first news this morning we were told a special announcement from the government would be made on all stations at three p.m. by Mr. Atlee, the deputy prime minister. We had never heard of a “deputy prime minister,” so wondered if Churchill had been assassinated, or what. At three p.m. the announcement: Mr. Churchill and President Roosevelt had met at sea, and drawn up, and signed, a mutual statement, about our war aims. It has twelve points, which were then given. I suppose I should rather describe it as our peace aims. Anyhow, it answers the question: What are we fighting for? It’s good, and it’s clever, and it forestalls Hitler, which is especially good. For weeks there have been rumors of “Peace Negotiations” coming from Hitler. This asserts again that the world will never negotiate with Hitler. I can’t write it all here.
Anyhow, I’m sick to death of the war, and all the war talk. This ceaseless destruction and lunacy gets me down. We have had comparative quiet in England since Hitler attacked Russia, but the war in Russia is too ghastly awful. Awful! I’m not going to write it here. Let the history books take care of that. The destruction is frightful. I ask: Where is God in this?
Marshal Petain made a very silly speech from the Vichy this week. He is still talking to his defeated Frenchmen about self-abasement, and the need for repentance and sacrifice. He is just a pious old fool, cow towing to Hitler. He is a dictator, dictating his own countrymen. Frenchmen have lost their liberties. “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity,” officially is no more. Petain has substituted Family, Work, and Obedience. Fine for nitwits! Petain is governing France “by authority.” Whose? His own? Hitler’s? France is dead.
I did some sewing this afternoon. Ted brought my sewing machine downstairs, which was a great help. Mary Bernadette Jude visiting this evening. I am reading an extraordinary book, but very slowly. Too many interruptions for any steady reading. It is a new novel by Christina Stead: The Man Who Loved Children. Much of it could pass for a portrait of my own husband. The likeness of Sam Pollitt to Edward Thompson is positively uncanny. I wonder: If Ted read it, would he recognize himself?
August 16, 1941
Ted has gone out to play at a wedding. Last night I was dreaming of W.H. This is a clear instance of associative memory. W.H. once said to me, “Everything goes back to sex—everything. It goes back to the foundations of history, of art, of poetry, or work, of war, everything. It is the base of everything in life. It is the most important thing in the world.”
I did not know what he was talking about, but because I was a modest innocent Victorian maid, I was embarrassed. I suppose it was because of my embarrassment that I have never forgotten his statement. W.H. was a formative and educative factor in my girlhood. He thought I was older than I was, he thought I knew more than I did, so he spoke accordingly, slightly above my head. He impressed me, and most of his impressions still remain.
“Everything goes back to sex. Everything is sex,” he said. Experience inclines me to agree with him.
So here in Christina Stand’s book; she shows the puritan prig, the moralist, the teacher, the inquisitive questioner, the theorist, the declaimer, the idealist, the wind-bag, the carping critic, the self-righteous, the condemner; but she shows him as grossly sexual; she shows him as a man who hates his wife, yet nevertheless continuing in the use of her body. Yes, I know.
August 17, 1941
I have had my breakfast and am waiting for Ted to come in to his. I am very tired and facing the day with a sort of dread, a very minor dread; nevertheless, I wish it was eight thirty this evening and this day had been lived through. I am expecting Mother, and I wish I wasn’t. I am so tired. I don’t want to talk with Mother all day. I don’t want to listen to and answer her stream of unending questions.
Query: Why do I hate questions so much? Mother has been coming over regularly every other Sunday all summer. She has been nice; we get along beautifully together; but the fact remains that for me this is too often. It is my nastiness, of course. I do get so tired of people!
Yesterday Mrs. Thomson came in, very soon after two, and stayed until five fifteen p.m. She could see I was writing, but that made no difference to her. She was alone for the afternoon, Thomson had taken Joan to the movies, and so she just came and planted herself on me. She’s such a fool, and such a bore! She didn’t want to be alone, so that was that. What I might prefer didn’t matter to her, never even occurred to her. Of all the neighbors I have ever had she’s the prize pest of the lot.
Last week got pretty well killed for me anyhow. I had anticipated a week of solitude. I had planned to sew, to write, to read, not to cook, and to sleep and wake, as I wanted. Instead, the weather turned bad and Ted returned home at midday on Wednesday and has been under my feet ever since. He has been amiable, but it was goodbye to all my private plans. It meant three meals a day again and God! I am tired of cooking and clearing away meals! I hate getting up and going to bed on his schedule. Mrs. Thomson popping in every day, and several times a day, ‘til I wish her to blazes! Now today to spend with Mother, more meals, more boring talk! Yes, here I am, grumbling away like mad. I know. Oh, I am tired, tired.
August 19, 1941
I went to the movies this evening, for the first time since July a year ago. A special government film is being shown everywhere this week, Target for Tonight, showing a real crew in their Wellington Bomber, making a raid over Germany. At dinnertime Ted asked me whether I didn’t want to go and see it; so we met in the Havana at five twenty p.m. like pre-war days, and saw the picture together. It gave me a very eerie feeling. The fighting in Russia is giving us in England a respite. Just the same we are warned daily to be prepared for the resumption of heavy attack, and to expect this winter to be even worse than last.
Have I noted the meeting of Roosevelt and Churchill at sea? Anyhow let the history books take care of that. I’m too tired to write about the war, the damned war.
August 22, 1941
Ted is playing benediction tonight. I have been to Aves this afternoon and had my eyes tested. As I thought, my glasses need much correction. Eyestrain probably accounts for much of my tiredness of late. Certainly I have been aware of my eyes troubling me, especially after a spell of knitting or sewing and after the movies. I have arranged for three pairs of spectacles, as per usual; two, in duplicate, for reading, writing, sewing, etc., and one helping rest pair, to wear at the pictures, or out riding, and so on. I still do not require glasses for constant daily use, walking about, I’m very glad to say. I am naturally long-sighted, and Aves says my sight is very good for my age, and has not failed or deteriorated more than it should for my years. So that’s good news anyhow. Now I am going to listen to Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, so, Au-revoir.
August 29, 1941
I am weary, impatient, melancholy. When Ted came in for dinner he brought his moneybag along; finishing lunch early, he went into the parlor and started playing the piano. Naturally I assumed he had finished work for the weekend. I also thought he had lit the parlor fire. It is a blustery autumn like day. When he came back to the table for his coffee, he commented on the rain and dullness, and I agreed, saying, “It is really cold enough for a fire today.”
He said, “Yes, why don’t you have one? I’ll light one in the parlor if you like.”
I said. “Oh, would you? That would be nice. Thanks.”
So he went in and made a fire. He came back to me full of grumbles. He said. “Why don’t you think of these things earlier? It could have been burning up all this time! But you always leave everything to the last minute! Can you remember to take the gas poker out in ten minutes? Can you do that properly? Or is that too much trouble for you?”
I laughed at him. I said, “Look here, I didn’t ask you to light the fire.”
“I know you didn’t. But you should have done. You wanted the fire in there. Why didn’t you say so?”
I said, “I thought you had lighted it. I thought you were home for the afternoon.”
He said, “Well, I’m not and you have no business to think. If you wanted the fire, you should have said so. You only say what you don’t want. You should have told me early.”
“Look here,” I repeated, “I did not ask you for the fire. You offered to make a fire, and now I am very sorry I accepted your offer. I won’t another time. Stop scolding.”
“I’m not scolding,” he said, “I’m teaching you. I’m educating you.” And with that he scowled, pulled his hat down with both hands, and went out the front door, still talking.
That is impertinence. Why should he “educate” me? Who the hell does he think he is, anyway? All that fuss about something he offered to do voluntarily. I guess he is in a scolding mood. Oh gosh, I’m tired.
I’m feeling down anyhow. I’ve received American letters this week, one from Mrs. Slocum, one from Lillian Berry, one from Eddie’s wife, and one from Charley’s wife. In the end such letters always distress me. They rouse all my longings for family and friends, and the dear American life and ways. I can get along much better when I don’t hear from America.
When Ted came into tea, he said, “I’m sorry I scolded you so much, but I had to, for your own good.”
What an apology! It is still the same impertinence. He is not my keeper, not my superior in any way at all. Why, Oh why, must he indulge his mania for instruction and correcting other people? Why his perpetual criticizing. I’m so sick of it, so sick of him. Now he has gone out to church, Friday Benediction. What a man!
I don’t want to be perfect, or to live the perfect life. Nor do I want him to be perfect. I can let his imperfections slide by without comment. Why can’t he let me alone? Above all, why can he never excuse me, never defend me? Oh God, I am so tired of this tiresome man. I want to be easy. I want to be happy.
I left the wireless on at teatime, to cover up any need for talk. Reginald Foort was playing waltzes. When I heard the old “Destiny” waltz I thought, yes, that is what I want. I want ease, grace, pleasure, happiness, and love. I want to laugh and to be gay. Ted’s everlasting pinpricking fault-finding gets me down. His everlasting moralizing. Oh, life with him is an awful strain. Well, he’s gone to church—my saint. As I read the gospel, Jesus prefers the sinners to the saints every time, and so do I. I am sick of Ted Thompson, literally sick of him.
September 1, 1941
An “alert” is sounding. This is the first daylight warning for about two months. I have just got back from the library, so I am lucky to be inside the house. Last night Gerry was over. We had just gone to bed about eleven thirty p.m.; no alert was sounded, but we heard the German engines throbbing over, and then the guns; not immediately near, but about Upminister, I guessed. We did not come downstairs, but I felt simply awful. I began uncontrollably to tremble, and to feel sick in the pit of my stomach. I began to pray! In danger everything primitive asserts itself, and one prays by instinct. All my soreness against Ted vanished. I thought why do I get myself so wrought up for things that don’t matter? Ted is as he is, and I love him as he is. I do. I can’t help myself.
So this morning I am serene again. Moreover, I am not as nervous now, with the alarm given, as I was in the night without it, because it’s daylight I suppose. One feels so helpless in the dark. The very darkness itself is terrifying.
September 2, 1941
It is a quiet night. Mary Jude in this evening, bringing the latest Vogue. I have received a disturbing letter from Artie. He writes that, after all, he is contemplating becoming engaged to Edna Renacre. I feel stunned.
September 3, 1941
Ted is out to the Home Guard. This is the second anniversary of the start of the war. At eleven this morning we entered on the third year of this war. I heard guns in the depth of the night, but no alarm was given. All day planes have been flying overhead incessantly. The news today tells that we bombed Berlin very heavily last night; so I expect London will receive a bombing tonight. God help us! The news from the Russian front is terribly momentous. A tremendous battle for Leningrad is expected now, and my even have begun. The Russians are fighting magnificently but, regardless of their own awful losses, the Germans press on. Oh God! Save the world!
September 7, 1941
Edna Renacre came today. In the evening she herself broached the subject of her engagement to Artie. She asked us what we thought about it. Ted answered her. I felt sick. She stayed very late, leaving us with the idea that the engagement is only prospective, not definite, and it was left that she would come with Artie “to talk it over.”
There was news on the wireless of the death of President Roosevelt’s mother, Mrs. Delano Roosevelt, today, within two weeks, of her eighty-seventh birthday.
September 8, 1941
A letter arrived from Artie, in acknowledgement of the letters we sent him last week, saying he despises himself. Why? How has he compromised himself with this girl? She is a very clever and determined miss, and she has nailed him anyhow. He writes, he is in very deep, and has given her a ring. She wasn’t wearing a ring yesterday, nor did she ever mention a word about one, which is a great slyness I think. Artie writes he expects to be home on the eleventh for forty-eight hours. I have written asking him please to see us, his parents, before he sees Edna. I pray God we may get the boy out of this engagement.
September 9, 1941
I went to the hairdresser’s. I went to the Floral Hall, so as to be entirely among strangers, so as to be able to think. The long operation of shampooing, setting, etc. always gives me a quiet space for uninterrupted thinking, and in times of stress can even sooth my mind. This advantage is now lost at Miss Young’s because she knows me too well, and will chatter.
I can’t say that I have cleared my mind at all today. I feel downright sick about Artie and this disastrous affair with Edna. What can I do? This girl has stalked him for two years, and now finally she has snared him. Can we get him out of her trap? I’m afraid not. She is not a bad girl, but Artie could never be happy with her. He hasn’t even been happy in a friendship with her. In marriage he would be miserable, both of them would be miserable. It is this girl who is determined to marry Artie, and her desire and determination to do so has been obvious from the beginning and to everybody. She is just a plain man-hunter. She marked Artie for her prey, and she has never let up from the chase. Now finally she has caught him, or almost. What can we say or do to prevent her marrying him in the end?
September 11, 1941
Artie arrived at dinnertime. His father and I had a most serious talk with him. It appears, she asked him for the ring! He had not realized that an “engagement” means an engagement to marry! He has not proposed marriage, and does not mean to do so. On his father’s advice he is going to tell the girl outright that there is no engagement. Ted will give him the money to pay for the ring. So that the girl may be reimbursed for her outlay—she bought it herself! Ted is buying the ring from the girl. It is not to stay in her possession. I have phoned the hospital and asked her up to tea. Ted will bring home cash at teatime, and the matter is to be settled this evening.
September 13, 1941
We had an awful to-do here. Artie is certainly a fool, but Edna is a very crafty, wise woman. She plays tricks, the tricks of the schemer. I cannot write down the whole to-do, it is too involved, and besides, it makes me sick. The girl refused to part with the ring, though at first she agreed to do so. She understands that Artie has not proposed to her, and positively there is no engagement.
Last night she was invited here to tea again, and accepted the invitation; but after Artie had gone to meet her, he rung up and said they would go to the movies first, and be in for evening coffee afterwards. Well, they never came in, and at eleven fifteen Ted and I went to bed. About eleven thirty they came in, both of them, so Ted got up and went downstairs, with cash and chequebook, thinking then to settle the ring business. But no! Whilst Edna was in the kitchen making coffee, Artie told his father that she wouldn’t part with the ring, that she would keep it, but she understood that Artie would not pay for it. Well, I could understand that. I thought she wanted to keep it to save her face with her own people.
Ted remained downstairs until they left for Artie to take the girl home. When Ted got up at six thirty this morning to go to church, he woke me and told me, “Artie isn’t in the house. He’s never been home. His bed hasn’t been slept in.”
We were alarmed! My dread was that this girl, who had been foxy enough to buy herself a ring, had also been foxy enough to procure a marriage-license, and Artie had stayed away all night because he hadn’t had the courage to tell us so, that they were going to be married this morning, and that they would not return until he brought her in as his wife. This was an awful thought!
Well, we waited until after nine o’clock and no Artie. At nine thirty I decided to ring up the hospital. I did so, but could not get through to Edna. I was told she was in the hospital, and was asked would I give a message. I replied, yes, and it was a very urgent matter. I said. “This is about a missing person. Will you ask Miss Renacre where my son is?”
“Does she know him?”
“Certainly. I think she’s trying to kidnap him. He took her home last night, but has not returned to his home. Where is he? As he is a soldier on leave, this is urgent. Please ask Miss Renacre where she saw him last, and to let me know at once.”
She did not telephone, but soon after ten o’clock Artie came home. I said, “Artie I’ve just been telephoning the hospital, making inquiries about you. I couldn’t get Edna on the wire, but they told me she was in the hospital.”
“It’s a wonder I wasn’t there too,” he said. “Edna gave me a drink last night, and it made me sicker than I’ve ever been in my life. I think I’ve brought up everything I’ve eaten for this past week. It’s a wonder they didn’t call the ambulance! And then I passed right out. I didn’t know a thing until I woke up this morning and found myself on their sofa.”
Now then how’s that for a trick? Artie assures us there is no engagement, that he has not promised marriage, nor has he seduced the girl. She will not let go. All right, we say, let her sue.

World War ll London Blitz Diary: 8-6-41 to 8-12-41

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August 6, 1941
I have just been having words with Ted. I think him detestable, and I was so disgusted with him, I told him so. It is silly, of course. Usually I can hold my tongue, but tonight I didn’t. I’m so tired of him; that’s why, I suppose.
This afternoon I went to the movies. Major Barbara, Shaw’s play, is showing at the Havana, so I went down to see it. I did not leave the theatre until six ten p.m. but I was back here in the house before the news was finished. I had left the table laid, and I found Ted eating his tea, but he began scolding me at once. He said I should have told him I would not be here to get him his tea. I went straight ahead and put the kettle on, and got him some pie and cream, but he kept on and on as though I had committed a crime. Finally he stopped, I thought he was finished, but when I sat down to take off my shoes, he began all over again.
“Good gracious,” I said, “have you got to begin again? I thought you were finished.” Then all at once I flared, “How many times in these last twelve months have you found me out when you come in?”
He began all over again. He came and stood over me, and wagged his finger at me, admonishing me without ceasing, and being very rude. I resented his rudeness, and his whole admonitory attitude. I said so. Why should he speak to me as though I was a naughty child? I told him I wouldn’t listen to him. That was a silly thing to say, of course, because I had to listen, as he told me, of course. Everything went out with his pointing, wagging finger. I just thought him silly, and so petty. He kept on and on until I finally told him he was detestable. How stupid of me. Finally, he went out to the Home Guards.
I have been having a very trying time this week past. Artie has been home on his seven-day leave. He returned to camp yesterday. All the time Artie was here Ted was extremely disagreeable. He nagged the boy; he nagged me. Why Ted is so censorious I do not know, but he will set himself up as a judge and he cannot refrain from sarcasm or what he thinks is sarcasm. Three quarters of what he must think is wit is just plain low class rudeness. He has talked to me daily and nightly of what he calls Artie’s stupidities; he has condemned “the youngsters,” “this new generation” twenty times a day. I am sick of his preachings. God, how sick! I want to be happy and easy. My God! Aren’t they fighting this war for us? For Ted they are just fools. In most of his talk for Artie he just tried to make Artie look a fool and then jeer and sneer at the boy. That is how Ted talks with the boys and with me. He questions and cross-questions everything we say, even an innocent remark about the weather. It is as though he deliberately tries to make us out to be either fools or liars or both. Oh, but its wearing.
Today I received a letter from Eddie, and after he had read that, he began instantly to belittle Eddie, and make a derision of him. I made no reply at the time, but probably that was a soreness that made me flare out tonight when he began to scold me for being out. Anyhow, I am not the man’s slave. I’m free, white, and twenty-one, and I’m not chained to the premises. I do resent his cutting and insulting remarks. Why be so rude? Why be so unfair? Why in the name of God be so petty? When he comes back I expect he will begin another harangue. I shall be told off all over again. Well, he’s the righteous one, but he certainly makes me hate righteousness.
August 7, 1941
Waiting for Mrs. Prior. If she does not show up by nine thirty I must begin on the work myself. When Ted came in last night I was listening to a B.B.C. concert. I did not speak, nor did he. However, he stayed in the dining room and also listened. Later a dance band came on the air; then he grunted and fussed, and soon went to bed. I remained downstairs and listened the program out. I think some of the dance songs very funny; they are certainly clever and mostly melodious, but Ted affects to dislike them all. To him they are “modern music” therefore no good, and he says so, times without number.
This morning he rose extra early, and went into the garden barefoot before the seven a.m. news. Then he shod himself and went to church, of course. What does he get out of early church? An orgasm perhaps. I remember years ago, way back in the Bayonne years, Blanch Sivell once said to me that she didn’t know what pleasure married people got out of marriage, but it couldn’t possibly be more than the pleasure she got out of Holy Communion.
“Why, Ruby, it’s wonderful, it’s keen. I can’t describe it, but I’m sure no lover could possibly thrill me more!” I thought her batty at the time. Perhaps there was something in it. I’m sure love and religion is inextricably mixed and I’m quite sure religion practiced by Ted is an aberration.
Ted is an A-1 eccentric. Take this barefoot practice of his. I do not remember him going around barefoot until the Tenafly years. I think he began the habit there. Outside on the lawns, or in the woods or fields, it was not so bad, a summer habit. When he began to walk about the house bare-foot, that was different. I remember one occasion which was downright unpleasant. One afternoon, Mary Spencer Smith was calling; we were drinking tea in the parlor; then Ted came in, wearing linen knickers, but bare footed. He bowed in his ambassadorial fashion, seated himself in an armchair, but swinging his legs over the side. His feet were filthy, covered with ground dirt. Mary exclaimed at him. He expatiated on the pleasure of going barefoot.
“But not in the drawing room!” she said.
“Why not?”
“Well, I’m surprised Ruby allows it. I shouldn’t allow Spence to, I can tell you.”
But there it is, the way Ted slips in manners. He is not a gentleman, and the older he grows the more evident that fact becomes. He acted grossly one day this summer. He had been working barefoot in the garden, and he then came in to rest awhile. He went upstairs and took off all his clothes except his shorts, and these were gaping. He came down into this dining room and began to smoke a pipe, lolling on the sofa, opposite the kitchen door. In this little house the dining room opens directly into the kitchen, and immediately on the right of the kitchen is the back door. If Ted is in the dining room when the errand boys call, he will speak to them as he chats in his camaraderie way.
Well, a young lad came with the green groceries and Ted immediately rose, called out to the lad, and began stalking across the room to speak with him further. I was literally horrified. I closed the door abruptly and I said to Ted, “For goodness sake, use a little sense! Don’t expose yourself to strange young lads like that!”
I shut the door in his face, and held it shut whilst the boy unloaded his basket. On the other side of the door, Ted was laughing. He thought it a joke. I thought it an indecency and madness. What would the boy have thought had he seen this spectacle? There was Ted, a naked and dirty old man, puffing on a pipe, and talking, talking! God, what a fool!
Mrs. Prior has arrived. I’m glad. I didn’t want to tackle the cleaning. She said she has had a poisoned foot, but it is quite recovered now. Good. I hope she stays recovered. I can clean the house but why should I?
Ted might be surprised if he knew how some of the youngsters regard him. Mary Bernadette told me one day last week that he made Huge Storr-Best “feel uncomfortable” and that Doreen Peel did not like to come to the house when Mr. Thompson was at home because she did not like him. Strange, especially when Ted thinks himself so fascinating. Certainly his conceit grows, and the way he talks to intelligent youngsters is preposterous. He talks at them, and as though they knew nothing. Again behind everything, I think, lies his own uncultured youth; his consciousness holds only the poor cockney, with a mere elementary board school education, even if that.
Ted thinks he is being friendly. Actually he is only being embarrassing. Oh dear! What a man! Then there is his religion, his damned religion, and his talk of morals, which ultimately he drags into every conversation. He is tiresome and boring beyond words. His religion is an obsession, and in the end he tires everybody with it, even the Catholics. Lou Branney was here to tea on Monday. (Lou now has his commission, was on leave, and came to see Artie.) We talked of the war, of course.
Lou said to Ted, “I must say our Catholic papers make me sick, especially the Catholic Herald. I won’t read them anymore. They’re damned awful.”
But with Ted, whatever a Catholic paper prints is right. Must be, because it’s “Catholic” isn’t it? It is fanaticism, pure and simple. Franco is right. According to Ted, Franco is a Christian gentleman who fought to save Christianity in Spain. Franco is a good Catholic, therefore can do no wrong.  Facts tell against Franco, and Lou said that the more he found out about the Spanish war the more disgusted he was with Franco and his gang, the more he thought there was something to be said for the Republicans, for the government. Franco is a minor Hitler, or Mussolini, a man ruthless and cruel, self-seeking and a liar. Not for Ted, oh dear no, Franco saved Spain! Oh well!
At breakfast this morning Ted wanted to be affable. I remained just polite. I presented him with a bill to pay. I have a bill from Stone’s for flannel and I have been wondering how I was going to pay it. He told me he was going to take a holiday all next week, and he thought he would go and look at Beccles and a few other places. So! I thought, all right, old boy, you can pay my Stone’s bill. So I produced the bill, asked him to bring me pence for the house at dinnertime, and please settle this bill.
“Is this for clothes?” he asked.
“Yes, for petticoats.”
He put it in his pocket. Let him pay. What does he ever give me? Why are little gifts so important to a woman? I don’t know, but they are. Trifles: things like a flower, or a pound of sweets, a package of cigarettes, a magazine, a scarf, all those little oddments, those little casual gifts. It is because they show affection, I suppose, a thought for you, a gift, a little gift. So I think: let him pay my bills. He looks after himself all right. Very well, he can look after me too. Now au-revoir. I must go in and see about fixing lunch.
August 8, 1941
A teeming wet morning and I have just been out to Carlton Parade to place my weekend orders. I received a notice from the food control office this morning that my request to have my registration for eggs transferred has been granted. I took the notice to Mrs. Dennis, so now I am entirely through with Sainsbury’s; this after about fourteen years trade with them, during which we must have spent considerably over one thousand pounds with them.
Elizabeth Coppen telephoned early this morning and she is coming to tea this afternoon.
Now I’ll record an absolutely typical piece of English masculine behavior. Last night apropos of nothing, Ted suddenly said, about seven, that he was going out to a boxing match, held by the Home Guard. So off he went, not returning until about ten forty-five p.m. This was the husband going out without previous notification given. What about the wife in this case? I might have arranged to do something with this evening, especially if I had known it was going to be a free one. No, I was not informed of Ted’s intentions for the evening until he was ready to leave the house. Yet he rowed me abominably on Wednesday because I went out, in the afternoon, too, when he was not at home! Without previously telling him of my intention to go out, and my crime was heightened because I was not back in the house before he came home. Probably he wasn’t back until six, anyhow. He comes in when he is ready to come in. Officially the office closes at five. Ted may come straight home, but he may go to the barbers or the library, or the church first; but he never tells me what he is going to do, or where he is going. He returns when he is ready to return and I have nothing to say in the matter. Not that I want to have anything to say. What I resent it that he should object to my going out at my convenience, and returning at my convenience, especially as I had not neglected any of my “duties” by doing so. That’s the Englishman for you, particularly the English husband. Perhaps the young English husbands are different. I don’t know, but I shall hope so.
Oh, how I do dislike old-time Englishmen! Is it any wonder I long for America, and shall long for it, as long as I live, and whether I have any children there or not. American men treat their women properly, and no matter what their personal relationships are. American women are equal human beings with their men; they always were, and I guess they always will be. Anyhow, I thank God my sons are American. My sons won’t expect to own their wives, nor even give them “Christian” arguments that morally a wife should obey a husband. My sons are not Englishmen, thank God.
Ted did write me a cheque at dinnertime yesterday, and without further questions. All day he tried to be jocular. I think he was ashamed of his Wednesday’s outburst, his anger and rudeness and injustice; but of course he’ll never say so, he’ll never apologize, not to me. He might confess it in the confessional but he’ll never admit to me he was wrong, or say he was sorry he hurt my feelings. To write a cheque with partial good grace, that’s all he’ll be able to do in repentance or recompense towards me. I smile. I’m hard, and I only wish the amount requested had been triple what it was! When he so unexpectedly went out last night I set to work and cut out the petticoats. Now I’ve discovered why flannel petticoats have gone out of favor these past years. They cost too much. These petticoats work out at nearly one pound apiece, which is very expensive.
August 9, 1941
I received a note from Artie this morning to say he had been passed for a commission. Good. He will probably go to an O.C.T.U. before the month is out.
After much rain, today started very fine, so Ted said the weather was “for him” and packed his haversack. He went off by the twelve forty-six p.m. train; for Ipswich, I think. Anyhow, he is going hiking through East Anglia. Why East Anglia, seeing it is raided somewhere or other practically every day? Well, my guess is he is making for Walsingham. Next Friday will be the fifteenth, the feast of the Assumption, and I think Ted has started out on a pilgrimage to Walsingham, and probably, once in the country, will travel bare-foot. He has a mania for pilgrimages. Oh Lord! What a fool! What an utter fool.
I have been to the town twice today, and now am very tired. First I went to Stone’s to pay my bill, and whilst there I bought some khaki wool to make Artie some socks. I also returned Ted’s books to the Public Library, and bought a basketful of apples from Ives in Mercury Gardens. Apples are in at last, thank goodness. The paucity of fruit is very great. There’s a paucity of everything, I think.
When I returned to the house I remembered I hadn’t parceled Artie’s cardigan, which he asked for, to be sent at once, so I had another trip, down to the post office. Consequently I am terribly tired tonight. It had been my intention to cut out a frock, but I am much too tired to do so. Luckily I’ve got an interesting book to read: The Man Who Loved Children, by Christina Stead.
Last week I read ambassador Dodd’s Diary. He was an American ambassador in Berlin from 1933 to 1938. This was an intensely interesting book. It was his private diary, not his official one. Right from the start he could see war coming. What struck me most in it was the rascality, and idiocy, of men in high places, and how greatly the life of the world lies in the hands of the giant capitalists. A few rich men do own the earth. No wonder they are afraid of the communists. The rich men of Europe wanted war, because war makes profits; but ordinary men never want war. As G.B.S. said somewhere: If you take out the governments and shoot them, then you will have peace.
For several years now I have been attracted by the thought of communism, especially since the Spanish Civil War; but I have never dared investigate it, because I feel that if I did I might be converted to it. That would never do! Not whilst Ted Thompson and I have to live in the same house. He condemns it offhand, in toto. Without ever investigating it for himself, of course; sufficient for him that the Church had condemned it. The Church!
August 12, 1941
Got no sewing done. First of all Mrs. Thomson killed my morning. Then I went down to South Street to buy some stationary, etc. All paper, books, etc. are getting very scarce, and very dear. I bought two new books, a good (and their last) newspaper clippings book: a bottle of stickphast, and their last scrap-album. I’ve got the album to hold my collection of dress pictures. For years I have cut out of papers, magazines, etc. pictures of what I consider beautiful frocks, in styles suitable for me. Some are being worn by people in the news, some by people in advertisements, a very few from fashion notes. They go back to the last war years, and start with a photograph of Maude Adams, wearing a velvet gown. My two latest are; one, a photo of a social group in Buckingham Palace this July, for the picture of the ensemble worn by the Queen of Yugoslavia (a woman of my build, wearing a figured silk dress, covered by an extremely graceful but plain black coat—it was the coat I wanted to note); and second, a propaganda picture about girls war-work, showing a mother and daughter chatting together, and this to note the mother’s dress, which is a severely plain cross-over.
Then after lunch I called a taxi and went over to Parkway, to pay a visit to Miss Coppen. I met her friend Mrs. Townsend. I stayed with her until nearly eight o’clock, and then taxied home again. I had only just got in when Rita Pullan came, and she has only just left. So now it is bedtime again, for I am too tired to start sewing tonight. Goodnight.